Faith & Football
Today some things remain the same during this global challenge. Today is Easter Sunday when 2.2 billion Christians will celebrate the Story of the Death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ in a way never before imagined.
During their Enshrinement speeches, the Class of 2016 used the word “love” 148 times. Many other Hall of Famers have come to their Faith based on what Football has taught them.
Throughout the day, we will present ten homilies on different players' Faith and Football including: Darrell Green, Anthony Munoz, Aeneas Williams, Rod Woodson, Tony Dungy, Brian Dawkins, Kurt Warner, Randy Moss, Ed Reed and Kevin Mawae.
Each story is compelling and very different in their paths, but one theme is constant - The Game shaped their lives and they, in turn, have helped to shape the Game.
Faith and Football has a rich history:
- One of football’s founding fathers was Amos Alonzo Stagg. He originally intended on becoming a Presbyterian minister, but instead fulfilled his calling as the head coach at the University of Chicago.
- The Fellowship of Christian athletes was founded in 1954. Hall of Famer Reggie White became involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes while at the University of Tennessee and expressed an interest in becoming an evangelist as early as his sophomore year in 1981. He became an ordained Baptist minister during this period. He had acquired the nickname "The Minister of Defense" by the time he was a senior.
- In 2015, 19 Gold Jackets traveled to Israel "Touchdown in Israel." and a second trip followed in June 2017.
- 7 Gold Jackets represented the Pro Football Hall of Fame, with a private audience with Pope Francis. The Hall was the first-ever American sports organization to receive this honored invitation.
- Most teams say a pre-game prayer and opposing players of faith gather after a game at midfield to pray.
- Gold Jacket and Pastor Aeneas Williams leads his Spirit Church congregation in St. Louis.
In a Huffington Post Blog written by Rick McDaniel in 2013, he outlined the many parallels between the Bible and Football:
“There is much in the bible that supports the qualities needed for playing football. Many stories in the Bible tell of battles, perseverance and of commitment. Romans 8:29 tells us God wants our character to be formed like Jesus and football is a character-building enterprise. Learning how to win and lose gracefully happens playing football. Working hard toward a worthy goal and paying the price of self-sacrifice is learned playing football. Getting along with people who are different from you and appreciating their differences is learned to play football. The temptation of materialism (which only applies to the NFL not any other level of football) is simply a challenge many other Christ-followers face. Business leaders, entertainers, and other successful people have the same temptation to serve money instead of God it is not unique to NFL players and coaches. The massive list of men who have played the game and are faithful Christ-followers is a testament to the fact that it can be done.”
Whatever you believe or faith you practice, football is a great metaphor for life. It is why we Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve Its History, Promote Its Values and Celebrate Excellence Everywhere.